For most of my adolescent life I grew up seeing laundry to be a weekly ritual which our maid takes care of. One day I noticed my mother supervising our maid doing laundry although. When I asked my mother why she was micro managing the laundry activities of the maid, she said, “Maid does not know the correct measure of water and detergent to use. I will have to instruct her. Else clothes may get damaged”. I was amused. Maid has been employed to save some time. Yet, my mom had to spend ample time in the supervision. My mom murmured, “Everything is available online these days. I wish laundry service is also available online” with a sigh. No, my mom does not dread laundry, in fact she never made us leave house without clean clothes. But all she desires is a simple yet skilled process which saves her time and gives value to her money.
Yes, this is a common story in almost every house in cities. With hustle and bustle of city life, people hardly find time to manage their laundry thus looking out for feasible solutions. Laundry has been a conventional business. According to a Euromonitor International report, the unorganised laundry sector in India is worth 200,000 crore annually. Only 5% of the market is organised, while the rest remains unexplored. The pool of 12 million online consumers is expected to grow by 20% CAGR.
Don’t these figures look lucrative? No wonder this sector is seeing an influx of startups. Technology aided on-demand laundry services are now established in all metro cities. During a talk through session on the very topic, one of my friends asked “Why would I go for a service like this when the local Dhobi is cheaper and I already have a long term association with him?”. This is a very common question, startups in this sector face day-to-day.
To answer this question, we will have to look at problems Dhobis are facing currently. In our one year of operations we have understood that there are primarily three main problems which we should deal with in the laundry sector. They are water scarcity, usage of chemicals and detergents and to educate people on how we treat their clothes.
With renowned problem of water scarcity, dhobis are left with no choice but to use water that is freely available and often degraded. This practice eventually causes clothes to lose its texture. Even when one is not very concerned about clothes, in view of the contaminated water, usage of disinfectants is highly recommended. However, such hygienic laundry services are not always guaranteed at Dhobi Ghats.
Proportions of ‘Detergents and Chemicals usage’ are not standardized among local dhobi practices. Each cloth type has to be treated differently for its long term sustainability. Some must be treated with mild detergent while some may have to be treated with chemicals. But in general dhobis prefer low quality detergents for regular wash and bleach to get rid of stubborn stains. They do not realize that bleach does not just remove stains. It bleaches off color from the fabric itself thus forming faded patches. Usage of these low quality and harmful chemicals affects the cloth durability. Anything should be used in a right quantity be it chemicals/detergents or any other solvents. If not used properly they will have a drastic effect on our body. The usage of chemicals plays a very important role in the laundry process. Chemicals we use in the process have different side effects on different people. If the chemicals are not used properly, they will have a negative effect on the people’s skin/body. The chemicals will be very concentrated and they should be diluted and used properly under the supervision of an experienced laundry professional. The local dhobi’s will have least knowledge on how to use the chemicals and other stuff. As a professional laundry services company we know what to use and what not to use. We take extreme care while choosing the chemicals and detergents. This helps us to reduce the after effects of a laundry process (after effects: itching/skin allergy/rashes)
Does this mean local dhobis should not be employed? No, instead they should be educated. They should be skilled. We put in efforts to make them skilled and be hands on in the laundry sector.
We constantly put efforts to minimize the above problems so that our service quality increases. We hope to give our best service to the customers and make them feel special when they come to us.
Company: PKC Laundries- an Online Laundry (Hyderabad)
Customer Base: around 1500